Aspiring cyborgs weep: Google Glass is dead. (probably)

Just the other night I was watching a rerun of the Big Bang Theory episode, The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification, in which Sheldon bemoans the fact that he won’t live long enough to have his intellect fully uploaded into a robot and creates a Mobile Virtual Presence Device. It now looks like Sheldon will have to rely on his robotic doppelganger a bit longer because the days of useful android options have been pushed back even further. Ladies and gentlemen… Google Glass is dead.

The company insists it is still committed to launching the smart glasses as a consumer product, but will stop producing Glass in its present form. Instead it will focus on “future versions of Glass” with work carried out by a different division to before.

The Explorer programme, which gave software developers the chance to buy Glass for $1,500 (£990) will close. The programme was launched in the United States in 2013. It was then opened up to anyone and was launched in the UK last summer. It had been expected that it would be followed reasonably quickly by a full consumer launch.

From next week, the search firm will stop taking orders for the product but it says it will continue to support companies that are using Glass.

The company obviously doesn’t want to use any words like failure and insists that the project is just looking for a new home, but BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones isn’t buying it.

Google has tried to present this announcement as just another step in the evolution of an amazing innovation. But make no mistake – Google Glass is dead, at least in its present form.

As I found when I spent a couple of months wearing Glass, it has a number of really useful aspects – in particular the camera. There is however one huge disadvantage – it makes its users look daft, and that meant that it was never going to appeal to a wide audience.

But Google will now have to deal with a disgruntled community of Explorers who paid a large sum for a device which they must have believed would eventually evolve into something more useful.

Not to take anything away from Rory, but I think there was more amiss with Glass than just making the users look daft. Google Glass was just plain creepy. If you were wearing something like that around in the privacy of your own home, it would essentially be nothing more than a much fancier combination of a remote control, wearable laptop, cell phone and smart TV. Nobody would bat an eye. But the device’s omniscient capabilities made it a very different beast when you took it out in the public square. Nobody knew when you were recording them, checking into their background, finding their personal details or plotting some devious plan. Was any of it illegal? Probably not, but that doesn’t do anything to ameliorate the creepiness factor.

It was disturbing enough that bars and restaurants were banning users from their establishments. Employers expressed even more alarm, particularly the ones who don’t even want workers bringing cell phones onto the premises. Let’s face it, even for a society which is jumping by leaps and bounds into the cyberactive world of the 21st century, Glass was a huge step too far and too fast.

This technology is coming and I’m pretty sure that nothing is going to stop it. Eventually. I’m guessing it will probably take a full generation of those annoying millennials and their likely even more annoying offspring before rank and file citizens are ready to fully embrace the jump into anything that close to Terminator status. But if you can come up with a feasible, wrist bone mounted, mind-machine interface controlled laser, sign us up.

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